London Stansted CEO, Ken O'Toole speech at the London First Infrastructure Summit 2018

As we now come to the end of a busy summer season its opportune to reflect on the past few months and determine not only what we have learned from the experience but more importantly, what this tells us about our future.

London Stansted has seen strong year-on-year growth of 9 per cent during the summer season from April. We’re London’s fastest growing major airport, and have seen a host of new long haul route launches, complementing the continued growth of our short haul network.

This growth is set to continue and we are forecast to deliver up to 50 per cent of London’s total expected passenger growth over the next decade. We will do this by making best use of the available runway capacity we currently have, capacity that is unlocked by a £600m investment program currently underway, and which will see a new arrivals terminal open in less than 2 years time. You’ll get a clear view of our plans via the video playing on screen behind me.

London has never been in greater need of a vibrant aviation market - as we look to the future we need to ensure we have the connectivity to trade globally, attract overseas investment and encourage tourists to our shores. Stansted will be critical to achieving those objectives.

Stansted is the London airport with most available capacity today. London and the East of England will remain both resilient and buoyant, and to keep stimulating growth for the airport and wider economy, we are transforming our facilities through our £600 million investment programme.

With that level of financial investment being made by ourselves we therefore welcomed the Government’s policy support for airports seeking to make best use of their existing capacity. But policy needs to be backed up with specific strategies and actions; – the Aviation Strategy currently under consultation needs to be much more ambitious and airport specific for the industry to grow, particularly for larger airports like Stansted with a strategic role to play in providing connectivity. Government must also lead in delivering short term improvements in the quality of rail connections between London, Stansted and Cambridge, and a fundamental review of long-haul APD and investment to reduce queue times at the Border is now well overdue.

It’s vital for the UK economy, and London, that this country has the best possible aviation connections and there is an urgent need to actively support airports, like London Stansted, that can deliver that access now. In February of this year we put forward a strong planning application to increase the cap on passenger numbers that are allowed use Stansted from 35 million to 43 million passengers per annum, an increase we will deliver within existing limits on flight movements and noise impacts.

We’ve had tremendous support from business, local authorities, investment agencies and other stakeholders to our plans and that application, which will be considered by UDC shortly. Our stakeholders understand the value of connectivity and they know that passengers, whether they be on leisure or business, want to travel from an airport that is most convenient for them to access and provides the destinations they want to travel to. If you are a major international bioscience company in the Cambridge cluster, or an investment bank or tech company in the City of London or on the eastern edge towards Silicon Roundabout, then that airport is Stansted.

At the start of the summer Emirates began a daily direct service between Stansted and Dubai and this created a huge buzz and ticket sales have been incredibly strong – I know of one company in Essex which has already used it 60 times to fly to Mumbai. The success of Emirates, coupled with 4 extremely busy transatlantic routes which also started this year, are important milestones for Stansted but are also only the beginning for us. Stansted is the only airport in London where airlines can take a strategic view of growth opportunities over the next decade and in doing so ensure London will not standstill.

In the five years that MAG has owned Stansted, it has nearly trebled the number of airlines operating at the airport and that trend continues to gather pace. As I spend time speaking to people across the East of England and into London, it is clear to me that there is huge untapped demand for further long haul from our airport – I estimate there are between 20-30 viable long-haul routes which we will unlock over the next number of years.

So, in conclusion, there is a huge amount going on at London Stansted and as we continue to grow, transform and expand over the next decade we will not only continue to be one of the most interesting places to be but also play a leading role in delivering the aviation capacity that London so desperately needs. And as we do so, we will continue to help make London, and the East of England, some of the best places in the world to live, work and do business.